Zach Dunlap's story, which took place in
Oklahoma City is a unifier.
No matter what side of the organ donor
argument you are on, when you read Zach Dunlap's story you
will probably take a step back - to contemplate.
Zach Dunlap, 21, was "more dead" than Terri
Schiavo was before he woke up from his coma.
He was pronounced dead in Wichita Falls,
Texas, after he was injured in an all-terrain vehicle
accident. After seeing the results of a brain scan in which
"there was no activity at all, no blood flow at all," his
father, Doug, approved organ harvest from Zach's "lifeless
But as family members were paying their last
respects, they wanted to check if he was really dead. He
wasn't. Zach suddenly moved his foot and hand and reacted
to a pocketknife scraped across his foot and to pressure
applied under a fingernail.
Incredibly, though Dunlap said he has no
recollection of the crash, he does remember one thing and
that is hearing the doctors pronounce him dead.
"I'm glad I couldn't get up and do what I
wanted to do," Zach said. "Just makes me thankful, makes me
thankful that they didn't give up."
This is quite a horrifying statement. How
many other "brain dead" people heard doctors declare them
dead? How many others were given capital punishment while
lying helpless in a hospital bed?
Four months after he was declared brain dead
and doctors were about to remove his organs for transplant,
Zach Dunlap says he feels "pretty good." I would say he
should. Not just because he's alive and well, but more so
for the message his story sends the rest of us.
The story of Zach Dunlap should make a lot
of people feel good - all those who understand that while
there is breath there is life.
No matter what part of the argument you are
on - pulling the plug or not, donating organs or not - this
story really has to make you think.
Perhaps when it comes to life and death
decisions people are too quick to pull the trigger.
Certainly one thing we can learn from Zach
Dunlap's "return to life": Not enough effort is made to
watch cases like this and allow them to play themselves out
before we pull the plug.